We know play is a vital aspect to a child’s development, but according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in five children live within walking distance of a playground or park. This translates to approximately 15 million kids that do not have the opportunity to get out and safely play on a regular basis. Keeping our bodies physically active throughout our lives can help prevent such health issues as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Exposure to fun ways of play at a young age will help instill the importance of being active and motivate our youth to incorporate exercise into their daily lives not only in their youth, but also in their adulthood. The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative supports programs that expose and educate our youth and their families to the benefits of staying active and actually gets them moving. KaBOOM! is one of our key partners in motivating the youth across our five states to increase their physical activity levels and get out and play.
With the help of KaBOOM! , a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children, we select a community partner to create access to play and build a safe playground where one did not exist before. The entire community is involved with this process and engages hundreds of our own employees annually to assist in building a playground in one day. Not only does this increase exposure and access to play within a community, it creates a sense of pride and satisfaction as the entire community is involved in the process and is responsible for maintaining the playground after it is built. It is amazing to see a community transform after KaBOOM! gets involved and we are thrilled to be part of the process.
Throughout 2013, we partnered with KaBOOM! to build 10 new playgrounds, four shade structures and two Imagination Playgrounds which helped to provide safe play and impact more than 31,000 children. The shade structures expand access to play during hot summer months, as well as provide skin care protection. Imagination Playgrounds were provided to two different community partners so that they could provide access to indoor play for the children who participate in their programs.
We’ve worked with KaBOOM! to build a total of 39 playgrounds over the last five years. To date, nearly 90,000 children have been impacted by our partnership with KaBOOM!. We are looking forward to building nine new playgrounds in 2014, including one in our company’s newest Blue Plan state of Montana, further strengthening our commitment to increase the amount of physical activity within our communities.